COVID: Rally staff around a common goal

In this article series we ask leading energy management experts about the impact of coronavirus. 

Mohammad Iskandar Majidi, Malaysia
Energy Efficiency and Solar Thermal Application Technical Expert, UNIDO

Malaysian businesses have been very much affected by the pandemic. Many are struggling to keep their heads above water due to the lockdown and the Movement Control Order.

Even though most industrial companies are in ‘survival mode,’ this is actually a very good time to consider ways to innovate. Innovation does not have to be a big ticket item. It can be anything that involves getting your business out of its comfort zone and encouraging your team to work smarter to face this challenge together. Reducing operational costs through effective energy management is one example of an inexpensive innovation, which can be applied in the immediate term.

In these tough times management can even use energy efficiency as a cause for employees to rally around. Employees are well aware of the dire business situation. Now more than ever they recognize the need to be cost vigilant. So it’s actually a perfect opportunity to promote the virtues of energy efficiency which reduces costs, saves jobs and helps businesses remain competitive.

For businesses to remain viable and competitive, they must discard the idea that energy is an unavoidable cost of doing business that they cannot control. When business is down, demand is low and margins are tight, so we must look at the many ways to reduce operating cost. Even by just being aware of how much energy is used to produce a product — conducting a benchmarking analysis — companies will quickly recognize ways they can better manage their energy use.

I like to say, $1 of energy saved is $1 profit. In some companies, a 20 per cent reduction in energy costs is equivalent to a 3-5 per cent increase in sales. You don’t have to spend much to get this done, you just need commitment from top management, awareness among your staff and ideally the support of a well-qualified energy manager to guide the company forward.

Over the past several years Mohammad and colleagues have facilitated Maeesta, a UNIDO solar thermal technology training programme for energy managers, engineers, consultants, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, universities and other research institutes. Malaysia is looking to its bourgeoning solar sector as way to recover from the current COVID economic crisis and simultaneously improve energy management in its industrial organizations. Learn more about how UNIDO’s Industrial Energy Accelerator is helping to promote solar technology in Malaysian industries

Innovation in a time of COVID. The COVID-19 pandemic will change the global industrial sector forever. In this article series we ask leading energy management experts about how the virus has affected their country’s industrial sectors and what businesses could be doing to prepare for an uncertain future.